Penn State Intercom......February 14, 2002

All aboard!
New trolley adds panache
to University Park campus tours

By Annemarie Mountz
Public Information

While this isn’t “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” eagle-eyed pedestrians on the University Park campus may have noticed a new trolley patrolling the streets recently.

Molly Trolley, as she’s affectionately called by Fleet Services, makes her official entrance on the campus today, with an open house from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Fleet Operations.

The 33-foot, 14,800-pound trolley features an oak and brass interior and seats roughly 35 people. Plans for its use include admissions tours for prospective students, incoming freshmen and their families; general tours of campus given by University Relations; special activities; conference support; and alumni activities.

“We’re looking into the possibility of collaborating with the local community so that the trolley could be used for some community events as well,” said Gary Schultz, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer. “I can see a wide variety of potential uses for it, including special downtown events and tours of the community for special visitor groups.”

When prospective students arrived on the University Park campus for a tour in the 1970s and early 1980s, they were treated to a ride on a red, double-decker London transit bus.

That bus, built in 1951 and acquired by the University in the early 1970s, provided a certain charm that added to the overall experience of the tour. In the mid-1980s, the old bus could no longer fulfill its duties and was finally retired.

“Mechanically, it became impossible to keep. The bus was just too old and worn out,” said Bruce Younkin, manager of fleet services.

The quaint London transit bus was replaced by a small, gas-powered bus donated by Columbia Gas.

“We used that for about five or six years, but it was just too small. We phased it out and have been using school-type buses since then,” Younkin said. “They serve the purpose, but they’re nothing fancy.”

Now, with Molly Trolley, the University once again has a signature vehicle for tours.

“We had looked at getting a trolley in the past, but it never worked out. Then, President Spanier told us about one he saw in Chicago and said he thought it would be a neat idea for Penn State,” Younkin said. “We investigated, and found a small company in Maine that could build one for roughly the same price as a school-type bus.

“There is a niche at the University for this vehicle. If it’s successful, we may purchase more,” Younkin said.